By JEN CARDINES
Southington High School (SHS) was ranked by U.S. News as the 38th best high school in Connecticut for 2016 after receiving a silver medal on the national level.
All schools that were ranked gold or silver nationally were numerically ranked in their states based on their position in the national category. Nationally, Southington was 1,819 out of nearly 20,000 schools, so they fell in the silver medal category.
In April, Chief data strategist Robert Morse explained the ranking process in a report on the U.S News website, providing all of the details and information about the procedure.
He said that 2016 was the first year that graduation rates were a deciding factor. High schools “now have to meet or exceed a national standard high school graduation rate to be considered top-performing schools and to be ranked at a national level,” the report stated.
SHS measured up to the new criteria with great success. In order to pass step three (meeting/surpassing a basic benchmark for graduation rate) schools had to have a graduation rate of 68 percent, but Southington came in at 94 percent, near perfection.
Board of Education chair Brian Goralski said that the district has always had an outstanding graduation rate, and one year it was 100 percent.
A stipulation for their silver medal honor was having a college readiness index (CRI) of 20.17 or better. SHS had a 30.1. The CRI is a measurement of students that took and passed Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests.
SHS had about 30 percent of its students receive college credit before graduating high school, and 78 percent of the students who took AP tests passed.
U.S. News used data from the 2013-2014 school year when making these decisions, meaning that changes could have already occurred in the ranking high schools.
“We’re already pretty far down the road,” said Superintendent Timothy Connellan. “We’ve already increased our AP class offerings.”
With nearly 2,100 students, SHS is the eighth largest high school in the state, and they put up impressive numbers in core subject proficiency. The math and English proficiency rate is 93 percent for Southington students, surpassing the state standards by 13 percent.
“As we start the budget season, it really shows that we spend the money responsibly and get good outcomes,” Goralski said.
“We’re always happy to hear that people think we are doing a good job,” Connellan said, “But we’re more in tune with how we think we’re doing.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.